For day two of our offseason-long series, we’re taking a look at a pair of six-foot-four minor league relief pitchers.
The first of these, Kevin Dickey, is a six-foot-four left-handed reliever out of Seminole State. Born on March 31, 1998, Dickey was a 27th round selection of the Astros in 2019. In 11 contests for the GCL Astros after the draft, he struck out 34 in 26 2⁄3 innings, walking 18 and also allowing 18 hits. That translated to a decidedly earth-bound 1.350 WHIP, while also showing he could hold opposing hitters to a .190 average.
After the 2019 season, Dickey was assigned to the Low-A Tri-City ValleyCats in the New York-Penn League. To date, the ValleyCats haven’t again taken to the field, and like most minor leaguers in 2020, Dickey sat out the season due to COVID restrictions. Although still assigned to the Astros organization proper in 2021, Dickey didn’t appear at any level through the season.
In 2022, Dickey made his debut on August 6 with the FCL Astros Orange squad, pitching the second inning and collecting a strikeout. He also allowed a hit and didn’t figure into the decision as the Orange topped the FCL Cardinals 8-1.
A week later on August 13, now with the FCL Astros Blue, Dickey started and gave up an unearned run on a hit, two walks, and a sacrifice fly. He took no decision in the eventual 6-4 loss to the FCL Nationals.
Still with the Blue squad on August 20, Dickey made his final appearance and walked one over two hitless innings. He also whiffed four in pitching the second and third innings of a 4-0 no-hit loss to the FCL Marlins.
Currently still assigned with the Blue, Dickey should get a look at Fayetteville in 2023, with a shot at getting to the big leagues in 2026 or 2027 provided an average ascension through the minor leagues.
Walker Brockhouse is a six-foot-four right-handed relief pitcher from Chesterfield, MO. Born on February 22, 1999, Brockhouse played his collegiate ball with Memphis. In 2021, he turned some heads with 55 strikeouts in 32 2⁄3 innings, but he also walked 27 and surrendered a 6.95 ERA.
Although Brockhouse went undrafted after the college season ended, the Astros signed him through free agency on July 17. In 10 appearances with the Low-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers, he managed to strike out 18 against 11 walks in 15 innings. He only gave up a dozen hits and five earned runs for a pretty decent 3.00 ERA. Unfortunately, he also allowed three unearned runs during that time. Brockhouse also surrendered three homers through that time with the affiliate.
In 2022, Brockhouse made his debut at the High-A level with the Asheville Tourists on May 19. In five appearances for them, he pitched six innings and gave up seven runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out four.
Despite his hard time at the higher level, Brockhouse did have a pretty good appearance on May 29, when he pitched a perfect eighth and struck out a pair in an 8-4 win over the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Brockhouse was moved down to the rookie level with the FCL Astros Blue on June 6, and pitched in 12 games for them. He went 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA and 49 whiffs in 40 innings against 25 walks. On June 18, he struck out six over four hitless innings in a 5-2 win over the Astros Orange squad. On August 16, he whiffed seven in 4 1⁄3 hitless frames, walking three and earning another win over the Orange, 10-9.
Looking a lot better at the lower level got Brockhouse promoted to the Low-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers, for whom he made his debut on August 27. In a 3-2 loss to the Charleston RiverDogs that night, Brockhouse pitched the final three innings, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out a pair. He would pitch in another two contests for the Woodpeckers through the end of the season, but neither was as good as his first appearance.
Brockhouse has shown improvement through the season as far as his surface metrics show, maybe enough to continue working in Houston’s system. The most logical place for him to begin the 2023 campaign is likely Asheville. A normal rise and progression through the minors would see him in Houston around 2026 or 2027.